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Saturday, March 27, 2010

Chivalry for the 21st-Century: The Dinner Date

(photo courtesy of

A couple of weeks ago, it was mentioned to me that I may possibly have a problem with men opening doors for me. I'm not entirely sure this is true. I have noticed that I don't enjoy having a door opened for me, but I'm pretty sure this is not a feminist/anti-chivalry issue. I'm pretty sure this has more to do with my insecurities and extreme dislike for attention, especially the attention of strangers. You see, whenever a door is opened, something happens that brings the opening of said door to the attention of the people inside the building/room. Maybe it's a blast of cold air, maybe it's the chime of a bell, or maybe it's a loud squeaky noise. Whatever it is, it will cause the occupants on the inside to turn and look to see who dares to enter from the outside. This is, in my opinion, unwanted attention. I would prefer not to be the person all eyes are now focused on. I would prefer to be the person still outside holding the door. (Yes, I may have issues.) 

At any rate this caused me to do some self-reflecting (yes, I realize I do this quite frequently), and it also brought me to this conclusion (which has very little to do with my self-reflection and is really more of an observation)...

Chivalry is dead. You may disagree, however, when one considers the true definition of chivalry, I bet you'll be more inclined to agree with me. For your convenience, here's the definition:
Main Entry: chiv·al·ry 
Pronunciation: \ˈshi-vəl-rē\
Function: noun
Inflected Form(s): plural chiv·al·ries
Etymology: Middle English chivalrie, from Anglo-French chevalerie, from chevaler knight — more at chevalier
Date: 14th century
1 : mounted men-at-arms
2 archaic a : martial valor b : knightly skill
3 : gallant or distinguished gentlemen
4 : the system, spirit, or customs of medieval knighthood
5 : the qualities of the ideal knight : chivalrous conduct
You, see? Dead and buried. Now, if we were to refer to the modern idea of chivalry, "Today, the terms chivalry and chivalrous are often used to describe courteous behavior, especially that of men towards women," I still must argue that chivalry is dead, or at least, dying. This is especially noticeable when dining out with a person of the opposite sex, a.k.a., a man. As an act of good-will and in the best interest of all sexes involved, I present to you...

How to be a Gentleman while on the Dinner Date*
  1. Pick the restaurant. Or at least narrow the possibilities down to three options that I can choose from. There is nothing more frightening than having to pick the restaurant, especially if you, the man, are buying. I don't know whether your wallet is stocked for fine French cuisine or for greasy French fries. This rule applies to first dates, fifth dates and fiftieth dates. It's kind of romantic, so just do it. Plus, it will save a lot of wasted time, energy and indecisiveness, especially if it happens to be our fiftieth dinner date ("Where do you wanna eat?" "I don't know. Where do you feel like eating?" "I don't know. Why don't you pick a place." "Can't you just pick a place?" See what I mean? Ugh. Takes the whole romance out of the dinner date)
  2. Hold the door open for me. I know, I know. Based on my above rant you may be under the impression that this is not cool. However, being that we are on a dinner date, I have probably dressed up for the occasion and would like to feel pretty and attractive, and I'm looking for lots of attention from others. (Especially if you neglected to comment on how nice I look when you picked me up or we left the house). I know this is a bit confusing, but trust me on this one.
  3. Let me choose my seat first. Nothing bugs the piss out of me more than always getting stuck with the bad seat. Whether it be the chair in the unfortunate half table/half booth combo, the seat without a view of the TV, or the chair that puts my back to the entire room, getting stuck with the bad seat can ruin the entire meal for me. By allowing me to choose my seat first, you are showing me that you are concerned with my comfort and want me to have an enjoyable evening. If this means you can't watch the football game, suck it up. You could have stayed home and done that.
  4. Wait until I am seated before you sit down. Whatever happened to this act of chivalry? I remember my grandfather doing this. He would always wait for the women to be seated before he sat down to the table. I can't tell you how obnoxious it is to still be struggling out of my coat and you're already sitting down, perusing the menu. And for the love of god, would it kill you to pull a chair out once in a awhile?!? (Ooh. Sorry. I got a bit carried away there for a moment). Seriously though, these are both very romantic gestures. Doing one or both of these will show you are considerate and polite.
  5. Be a man, step-up and take initiative when ordering. This doesn't mean that I want you to order for me. God knows I don't want that. What this means is don't leave it up to me to do all the conversing with the waitress. I've been a waitress and trust me when I say it never looks good when the woman is doing all the talking. The woman comes across as bossy and controlling, and the man comes across as weak and beaten. You don't have to do all the talking, but when the waitress asks if we're ready to order or if everything is okay or if there is anything we need, speak up, please. (I should hope it doesn't need to be mentioned, but just in case, never, ever, ever flirt with the waitress. Even if you think you're being charming, you're offending me and creeping out the poor waitress.)
  6. Skip the appetizer. (Be forewarned, I'm about to discuss sex. If this makes you uncomfortable, skip ahead to #7.) Okay, regardless of how many times we've been out to dinner together, you know the moment the evening begins whether or not you'll be looking for sex after dinner. I know this. I anticipate that you may want to have sex with me later, especially if the evening involves drinks. Because of this expectation, I am carefully planning out what I will be eating. There is nothing at all sexy about the post-dinner bloat. The last thing I want to do after a filling dinner is get naked and participate in ambitious bedroom antics. Therefore, skip the appetizer, or better yet, let me choose. Soup? Okay. Salad? Okay. Spinach and artichoke dip served with half a loaf of bread? Not okay. Not only will I feel obligated to eat this heavy-on-the-stomach dish (knowing full well that if I don't, I may come across as picky or anorexic, and also knowing that you're going to keep insisting that I have some until I finally break down and do) this dish is going to sit in my gut all night long. And piling an entree, possibly dessert and drinks on top of it makes for a very rumbly tummy.
  7. Don't criticize my food and beverage choices. Don't pick on me for ordering fish at a steakhouse or skipping desert when my favorite is on special. Don't insist that I try the fresh baked bread or that I have just one more beer**. And please, please don't insist that I clean my plate. Trust me, I'm thinking of you here (See #6 for an explanation).
  8. Turn your cell phone off. This has got to be one of my biggest pet peeves. There is nothing ruder than you texting during dinner or worse, answering your cell. I don't care who it is, you're being inconsiderate. I will never do this to you. Please don't do it to me. 
  9. Wait for me. After the bill is paid and we are getting ready to leave, please don't high-tail it to the door without me. When you leave me at the table, struggling to get my coat back on and trying to round up my gloves, scarf, purse and what-have-you, I feel like a total idiot. Worse, I'm thinking bad thoughts about you. Please be patient and wait for me. Better yet, help me with my coat and offer to carry the take-home boxes.
  10. Pay attention, be understanding and be realistic. (Sex discussion warning) Don't assume I'll be ready for sex immediately following dinner. Give a girl some time to digest. Especially if you broke guidelines #6 or #7. And please understand, there will be nights when I will willingly break #6 and #7 on my own because I want to gorge myself on wonderfully good food. On these nights, I have very little intention of jumping into bed with you later in the evening. Make sure you pay attention at dinner. If you've noticed a lot of food consumption, please don't expect much later on. Of course, if you notice a lot of beverage consumption of the alcoholic kind, you can totally disregard everything I've just said and consider it safe to assume that I will want, no, I will be expecting, lots of wild sex of the dirty and acrobatic kind.

* The "dinner date" has become a popular activity for couples in a long-term relationship as well as men and women who are simply "dating." These guidelines are appropriate for anyone, despite the length of time a couple has been together. In fact, they are highly recommended to those in a long-term relationship who are looking to keep the magic and romance alive.

** Unless of course, you are paying close attention as outlined in guideline #10 and are hoping for a certain outcome for the evening. Please be aware though, I'm on to you and I know when you're intention is to get me drunk. That doesn't mean I won't allow it to happen, it just means I'm not stupid.

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